When the canny cigar enthusiast begins homing in on their taste, they’ll turn to commonalities between the cigars they gravitate towards. This typically begins with the wrapper component, with further investigating leading to country of origin, body, production (small batch, limited edition, etc.), brand, factory, and even familial ties. In the case of the Warped Companion, the cigar is likely to tick quite a few of these boxes for hobbyists interested in the craft niche of premium cigars.
For starters, the cigar came as one of a trio of new core brands from Warped in the latter half of 2021, marking the end of what could be described as somewhat of a drought from Warped—at least compared to the steady stream of regular releases that fans had become accustomed to in the brand’s earlier years. Then there is the cigar’s manufacturer—Tabacalera La Isla—which is a boutique-minded upstart, debuting in Dec. 2020. The factory is operated by Hostos Fernández Quesada, who formerly trained with his uncle Manuel “Manolo” Quesada at the famed Quesada Cigars factory in the DR. Add to this the fact that Companion marks only the second time that Warped has featured a San Andrés wrapper (the first being the El Oso MaMa), and you have yourself a recipe for excitement—at least within the realm of small-batch, maduro-wrapped, Quesada-backed, Dominican-made Warped cigars.
Warped Companion Rothschild Breakdown
- Wrapper: Grade 1 Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Dominican Criollo ’98
- Filler: Dominican Republic | Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera La Isla (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 4½″ × 48 (Rothschild)
- Price: $12.00 (MSRP)
Warped Companion is the second Warped release out of not only the Tabacalera La Isla factory but the Dominican Republic in general, following closely on the heels of the Warped Chinchalle. The Companion is rolled in a singular Rothschild format, being composed primarily of Dominican tobaccos. There is also Nicaraguan tobacco within the filler—making up 20 percent of the blend—as well as the cigar’s signature Grade 1 Mexican San Andrés maduro wrapper. Kyle Gellis, owner of Warped Cigars, noted in a press release:
“After 14 years in the cigar industry and blending, I have only used San Andres wrapper once before, with El Oso MaMa at El Titan de Bronze, and the reason I never used it until now was simply I could not find the quality that stood up to Warped standards. When I was in Santiago and sourcing material for a few of our new blends, I came across this wrapper and instantly knew this was something I wanted to work with. The aroma [it] was giving off drew me in but once I tasted it, we ordered the tobacco on the spot.”
When Warped first relaunched in 2014, their cigars took on a contemporary feel, highlighting bold yet simplistic shapes and colors. But since their third brand—Flor del Valle—the branding has been much more ornate, feeling like modern takes on classic Cuban labels. The Companion continues in this vein, looking like something of a cross between former brands Flor del Valle and La Hacienda. It’s unquestionably attractive—at least in my opinion—though I can’t help but feel it could get lost in the shuffle of Warped’s massive portfolio.
The cigar is small and compact, having a nice density and spring to it when squeezed. The wrapper has a dark-roast coffee hue, being somewhat rustic in look and feel. It’s fairly toothy, having a gritty feel and a muted oily sheen. There isn’t much intensity to the aroma on the wrapper, showing notes of mineral (like the smell of rain), light musk, and a touch of leather. The foot is slightly more aromatic, with denser notes of manure and brownie batter. The pre-light draw is fairly firm (9/10), with raw characteristics of mineral and oar.
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Moving from Nicaraguan to primarily Dominican tobaccos, you might expect less punchiness in spice and body, and you’d be right. Instead, the Companion is smooth and subtle at its start, opening up with black peppercorn (no, it’s not entirely devoid of spice) and woody must. When lit, the draw has a better resistance than the pre-light suggested, pulling in a decent amount of smoke (though sometimes requiring double puffs), being smooth and wispy in texture. The profile is subtle and balanced, offering darker flavors than Warped is known for. These come across as bitter and slightly sweet, being mostly earthy and joined by espresso and a sweet/savory note that I’ll describe as candied bacon.
As you might expect from the cigar’s dense feel, the Companion shows good consistency in burn from one sample to the next. It is a wavy burn (though never out of control), producing solid chunks of fuzzy (from the toothiness), medium-gray ash. The slightly firm draw seems to make for a cool smoking texture, helping to bring underlying complexity from the dark-yet-subtle profile. This can prove to be an inflection point for this cigar; without careful pacing, it seems to precariously overheat, charring the subtle profile and making for a much less desirable experience. The smoke hits the palate almost straight down the center, being slightly sweet, bitter, and somewhat mouthwatering (the latter coming into play in the second third). Overall, the flavor, strength, and body hold in tandem at mild to medium.
While a generic sweetness is there from the beginning, these flavors are more easily detected as the profile evolves, showing occasional notes of brownie batter, dark vanilla, and molasses. However, these elements never play more than background roles, with earthy flavors dominating early on, and darker, heartier notes taking over in the second half. As the flavor, strength, and body levels rise to medium, notes of star anise, clove, and black licorice arise. These characteristics can overwhelm the palate in some cigars, though the Warped Companion handles them nicely, remaining balanced through the finale.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
While I wouldn’t be opposed to it, it’s probably not in the cards for me. Admittedly, I’m no San Andrés fanatic. That being said, some of my favorite cigars use San Andrés wrappers, but I can’t think of any that surround Dominican fillers. Nicaraguan blends just seem to be the perfect compliment to a San Andrés wrapper, amplifying earth, pepper, and mocha notes to such a degree that other styles seem in an uphill battle from the jump. But I have to give Warped credit on the Companion—they didn’t play it safe and simply join the fold of the aforementioned Nicaraguan/Mexican style popularized by Padrón in the early ’90s. Instead, the Companion feels like a Warp-ified San Andrés, maintaining the company’s knack for nuance and refinement. If you go into this one with that in mind—and smoke at a slow pace—you’ll be on the right footing to have a positive experience.
- Flavor: Medium-Light
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium
- Musty wood
- Black Licorice
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Porter | Medium-roast black coffee | Root beer
- Purchase Recommendation: Try one and take it from there
- Long ash / sturdy construction
- Long burn time for size (if you can find the right pace)
- Cool smoking temperature can lead to nice complexity
- Firm draw leads to double puffs leads to overheating
- Lack of standout flavor component
- Inconsistencies between samples